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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Micro Irrigation System : advantages and disadvantages

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A low pressure irrigation system that spray, mist, sprinkle or drip – is called as Micro Irrigation System. The term "micro-irrigation" means - a family of irrigation systems that apply water through small devices. These devices deliver water onto the soil surface very near the plant or below the soil surface directly into the plant root zone. Growers, producers and landscapers have adapted micro-irrigation systems to suit their needs for precision water application. This system is based on specific discharge-patterns of water in the crop fields, lawns, and horticulture stations, landscaping areas or domestic settings. Micro-irrigation requires a number of components that include pipes, tubes, water emitting devices, flow control equipment, installation tools, fittings and accessories.

Water Emission devices in micro irrigation system deliver water in three different modes: drip, bubbler and micro-sprinkler. On this basis the micro irrigation system can be divided into three basic categories- Drip Irrigation, Bubbler Irrigation, and the Micro- sprinkler Irrigation. In drip mode, water is applied as droplets or trickles. In bubbler mode, water `bubbles out' from the emitters. In the micro-sprinkler mode of irrigation water is sprinkled, sprayed or misted on the plants.

Micro Irrigation has following advantages-

1. Water savings- In this type of irrigation system water is saved through different ways such as –

- By reducing loss of water in conveyance

- By reducing loss of water through evaporation, run off, and by deep percolation.

- A water supply source with limited flow rates such as small water wells or city/rural water can be used in this type of irrigation system.

2. Energy savings – This type of irrigation system requires a smaller power unit and consumes less energy.

3. Weed and disease reduction- This type of irrigation system is helpful in inhibiting growth of weeds as it keeps limited wet areas. Under this condition the incidence of disease is also reduced up to major extent.

4. Can be automated. Fertilizers and chemicals can be applied with water through micro irrigation system. This systems can be automated which reduces labor requirements.

5. Improved production on marginal land. On hilly terrain, micro-irrigation systems can operate with no runoff and without interference from the wind. The fields need not be leveled.

The Micro Irrigation System has following disadvantages –

1. Management. Micro-irrigation systems normally have greater maintenance requirements. Soil particles, algae, or mineral precipitates can clog the emission devices.

2. Potential for damage. Animals, rodents and insects may cause damage to some components. The drip and bubbler irrigation systems need additional equipment for frost protection.

3. High initial cost. Micro-irrigation systems are ideal for high value installations such as orchards, vineyards, greenhouses, and nurseries where traditional irrigation methods may not be practical. However, the investment cost can be high.

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